Shubham: Spreading smiles through crafting letters

A person with a content heart, Shubham is an engineer turned content writer, who believes that writing is fun. Post completing his studies, he explored various career options, and eventually got back to writing and started working as a freelancer. Convinced with the power of standing out from the crowd, he says freedom is the only pro and con of freelancing. He believes in improving and getting better with each piece that he creates. With an aim to leave a smile on a client’s face, for him customer satisfaction is his biggest driving force. By seeing his optimism and sincerity, we know his journey ahead will be filled with success. 

Read Shubham’s engaging story here:

1. Introduce yourself to us? Where are you from? About your family, parents? How was your childhood?

I’m a freelance content writer based in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

Yes, the city of Taj!

My mother is a homemaker, my dad is a car mechanic, and my elder sister is a software developer. Yup, we both are engineers. Talking about my childhood, it was way too simple. I lost contact with some of my childhood friends (at the age of 9-10) when we shifted to our new house. From there, I grew up enjoying solitude over meetings.

2. Speak to us about your education history? Why did you opt for mechanical engineering?

I was an average student in my school, didn’t pop up much neither in academics nor in curricular activities. My school days were too simple, much simpler than anyone else. I didn’t have many friends, was studious, and a big time introvert.

I chose science because commerce was no less than an alienated stream for me. Later, I enrolled for engineering because that’s what every science student was supposed to do back then.

My father is a car mechanic, hence, I opted for mechanical engineering. Why not automobile engineering? Because it wasn’t available in the college that I got via counseling.

3. What was the catalyst to switch to “content writing” for you? Speak to us about your passion for writing?

In the second last semester of my graduation, I was looking for a way to earn some cash. I searched for data entry jobs over the Internet and luckily found a content writing job opportunity instead. I applied first and then searched what a content writer does. After a few months, I got my interview scheduled even though I had no hopes of getting a reply.

I used to assist my dad in the garage that time and I left it after getting the job.

I wasn’t serious even when I was going for an interview, but luckily the pay, location, and everything was perfect. There was no reason to say no.

Being the only guy earning in my batch, and the only writer in my entire family, I felt out of the herd.

That’s when I realized the power of standing out. 

Life appeared most sorted there but still, I wasn’t serious about writing. I was just doing it because of money, the bliss, and the fun—in writing blogs. I start liking picking topics from daily lives and writing about them. I was all new to writing and knew nothing about editing and proofreading. You can assume how bad must have been my content at that time. 

The irony was, I was getting paid for that shit.

4. Why did you choose to freelance? When did you begin to freelance? Were you planning it, or how did it happen?

It wasn’t a plan actually. I tried many things before choosing content writing. I did a job at a call center, tried vines on youtube with my friend, tried to grow as a poet, and even a novelist. I was lost at that time. I had no clue what to do but knew what not to do—job as an engineer, and preparation for a government job or GATE.

When I got tired, I went back to writing and started with a full-time job as an SEO content writer. The will to do something of my own was still there, which pushed me to learn about freelancing and writing. I received a few local projects while doing the job and that part-time work became a pull towards freelancing later.

I was playing safe though, and then Pepper happened, one of the Indian content writing agencies. I applied and started receiving projects after getting approved. Since I was short of time, I started taking leaves from the office to complete the projects. In the end, I got terminated. Although, the excuse for termination sounds still rubbish to me. I didn’t find another job because I thought that it’s time to give freelancing a chance.

That’s how I started freelancing in November 2019 with only hopes and no plans.

5. As a freelancer, how are your services priced? What are the key strategies for you?

There’s no one size fits all and you will hear this from every freelancer, either designer, developer, writer, or marketer. A writer can charge per word or on a project basis.

The pricing must depend on the time and effort a project/deliverable takes. Here’s the strategy that I use or every other writer can.

I learned it from the book ‘The Freelance Content Marketing Writer’ by Jennifer Goforth.

Set a monthly target for yourself, the amount you want to earn in a month. Divide it by your working hours in that month. For example, 5 hours a day will be 25 hours a week and 100 hours a month. Assuming your monthly target to be INR 50,000, your per hour rate will be INR 500. 

Use your per hour rate to estimate your fee for the project. Of course, depending upon the time it will take for you to complete. 

Always rate per project because some clients refrain from working with the writers who charge on an hourly basis. That’s my assumption, anyone is free to test.

6. Tell our readers how to approach the first few clients in their initial phase of a freelance career?

That’s a really vast question and I can write an entire blog on it. Well, thanks for the idea!

The thing is that new writers think that once you get your first client, you’ll get a trail of clients. That’s what I used to believe too. But that’s not the case every time! 

Every client that comes to you is your first client because it doesn’t work like a vending machine where you press a button and get the client until you’re running ads. 

Here’s what you can do;

  • Get an understanding first, what type of clients you want to work with, what they do, and how you can help them.
  • Be active on multiple platforms. Linkedin will always be at the top of my list. You can be active on Quora, Reddit, sign yourself on platforms like Truelancer, Fiverr, Gigzoe, Write Right, and approach content writing agencies like Pepper.
  • Don’t forget to work on your portfolio. Just make sure that you preach the services you’re offering. You can’t claim yourself a blogger to a prospect if you don’t have your own blog. I use Medium for that. If you don’t have samples to show, create them.
  • The last point is to network with other writers (because referrals help a lot), make genuine connections with them, and stay persistent with your goal (of getting clients).

7. What is the one major pro and/or con of freelancing, according to you?

The freedom in freelancing is the only pro and con that I see. Those who seek security won’t find freelancing the right fit. Also, newbies always meet with bad experiences like exploitation and not getting paid. All this happens because you weren’t prepared before. We all have been there and that’s how we learnt.

Getting an advanced payment is a solution to half of the bad experiences, believing that the writer is not there for money only.

8. What is the one thing about clients that you dislike? What can they do to improve your work life?

I do understand that dealing with CEOs isn’t an easy job, they have dozens of decisions to make and a writer can’t always be on priority for them.

At the start of the project, I have seen instances where I have to wait for weeks to get approval. Moreover, many clients ghost the writers in the middle of the project, but that’s not an everyday case.

The delay in responses kills the motivation to work but I can’t blame them either. A communicator between both of the parties can help a lot here.

However, who knows if I’m mistaking somewhere. After all, I’m still learning.

9. What’s your best piece of work to date? Why do you think that’s your favourite piece?

I make sure that any piece that I create today is better than a piece I created yesterday. I’m not boasting here, that’s true. I try to write every piece better than before. I’m really proud of working on one of the recent drafts, and can’t share because it isn’t published yet.

However you can check one on my blog, it’s a recent one. I have tried blending many different blogs in one; it’s about user-generated content.

10. What mission and vision do you have? How do you want history to look at you?

I am not sure about vision and mission but yes, I feel pumped whenever my work leaves a smile on the face of my clients. 

That’s my driver! 

I try to leave my clients happy, as many as possible.

Coming to history, I never gave it a thought. Freelancing isn’t my end goal, I have a lot to do. I don’t want to be remembered, neither do I want a huge following or fame. I just want to live the best of my life. I just want to end my journey with a content heart so that when my entire life flashes through my eyes, I would be saying that it was worth living. 

11. Do you feel content with yourself as you look back or do you think you have missed something?

I’m just 3.5 years old, excluding my schooling and graduation, pretty satisfied with what I did in that duration and what I’m doing now. 

Even though I spent time figuring out other stuff or I would be far ahead than I’m now.

Even though I struggle at times, I have no issues with my past because where I am today is all because of what I did yesterday.

Sounds cliche a bit! 😀

In the end, I would like to say thanks to Refrens, for the opportunity. Some questions were really exciting and made me think twice over them.

Shubham can be reached out on Refrens, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you are aiming towards growth and want to generate more sales, read our blog on How to increase quality leads as a freelancer?.